US strike in South Waziristan kills 7

Map of the tribal areas and the Northwest Frontier Province. The government signed peace agreements in the red agencies/ districts (the military said Shangla was under Taliban control in October); purple districts are under de facto Taliban control; yellow regions are under Taliban influence.

The US has attacked a Taliban safe house in the lawless tribal agency of South Waziristan, killing seven, including three “foreigners,” on Thursday.

An unmanned Predator aircraft fired at least one Hellfire missile at a Taliban safe house adjacent to a religious school in the town of Azam Warzak. “The missile hit a house adjacent to a madrassa (Islamic seminary),” a Pakistani intelligence official told Reuters. “Seven people are killed. Most of those killed are Punjabis,” Pakistanis from the eastern province of Punjab.

No senior leaders have been reported killed in the strike.

The US scored a major kill in Azam Warzak last summer. A Predator attack killed Midhat Mursi al Sayyid Umar, a senior al Qaeda commander who is better known as Abu Khabab al Masri, along with four members of his staff. Khabab was a senior bomb maker and chief of al Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction program.

Background on the recent strikes inside Pakistan

The US attacks inside Pakistan have tapered off the past six weeks after a high operational tempo in September and October, when strikes into Pakistan averaged two to three a week. Only seven attacks have been recorded in November and the first two weeks of December. The majority of these attacks have been inside North and South Waziristan.

Attacks in the tribal areas have decreased in frequency over the past six weeks as al Qaeda and the Taliban have taken additional security precautions, a senior US military intelligence official told The Long War Journal. “They have either gone to ground or are limiting their movements and meetings to reduce their visibility,” the official said.

There have been 34 recorded cross-border attacks and attempts in Pakistan this year, according to numbers compiled by The Long War Journal. Twenty-seven of these attacks took place since Aug. 31. There were only 10 recorded strikes during 2006 and 2007 combined.

The strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas have disrupted al Qaeda and the Taliban’s operations, but will not dislodge the groups from power in the region.

The US campaign in Pakistan is aimed at disrupting al Qaeda’s ability to attack the West, US intelligence officials told The Long War Journal on Sept. 19.

US intelligence believes the next attack launched against the West will originate from Pakistan’s tribal areas, where al Qaeda operates 157 known training camps, intelligence officials told The Long War Journal in August.

The US strikes inside Pakistan’s tribal areas have killed five senior al Qaeda leaders this year. All of the leaders were involved in supporting al Qaeda’s external operations directed at the West.

Abu Laith al Libi, a senior military commander in Afghanistan, was killed in a strike in North Waziristan in January. Abu Sulayman Jazairi, al Qaeda’s external operations chief, was killed in a strike in Bajaur in March. Abu Khabab al Masri, al Qaeda’s weapons of mass destruction chief, and several senior members of his staff were killed in a strike in South Waziristan in July. Khalid Habib, the leader of al Qaeda’s paramilitary forces in the tribal areas, was killed in North Waziristan in October. Abu Jihad al Masri, the leader of the Egyptian Islamic Group and member of al Qaeda’s top council, was also killed in North Waziristan this October.

Two other senior al Qaeda leaders are rumored to have been killed, but their deaths have not been confirmed.

Tahir Yuldashev, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, was targeted in a Nov. 7 strike in South Waziristan that wounded Taliban leader Mullah Nazir. Abdullah Azzam al Saudi, an al Qaeda leader involved with external strikes and the recruitment and training of operatives, is thought to have been killed in the Nov. 19 strike in Bannu, the first recorded US attack outside of Pakistan’s tribal areas.

US attacks inside Pakistan and incidents along the border in 2008:

US strike in South Waziristan kills 7

Dec. 11, 2008

US Predator hits al Qaeda target in North Waziristan kills 3

Dec. 5, 2008

US strike in North Waziristan kills 3

Nov. 29, 2008

US hits Taliban safe house in North Waziristan

Nov. 21, 2008

US Predator strikes al Qaeda & Taliban outside of Pakistan’s tribal areas

Nov. 19, 2008

US targets compound in North Waziristan

Nov. 14, 2008

US Predators strike al Qaeda camp in North Waziristan

Nov. 7, 2008

US Predators strike again in Waziristan

Oct. 31, 2008

US strikes kill al Qaeda operatives in North & South Waziristan

Oct. 31, 2008

US targets Taliban “facility” in South Waziristan

Oct. 26, 2008

US hits Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

Oct. 22, 2008

US strike in Baitullah Mehsud’s territory kills 6

Oct. 16, 2008

US targets safe house in North Waziristan

Oct. 11, 2008

US strike kills 9 al Qaeda and Taliban in North Waziristan

Oct. 9, 2008

US conducts two strikes in North Waziristan

Oct. 3, 2008

Taliban: Baitullah Mehsud alive; US strike in North Waziristan

Oct. 1, 2008

Pakistan military fires on ISAF forces

Sept. 25, 2008

Pakistani military fires on US helicopters at border

Sept. 22, 2008

US strikes Taliban camp in South Waziristan

Sept. 17, 2008

Report: US helicopters fired on while crossing Pakistani border

Sept. 15, 2008

US hits compound in North Waziristan

Sept. 12, 2008

US targets Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

Sept. 8, 2008

US airstrike killed five al Qaeda operatives in North Waziristan

Sept. 5, 2008

Report: US airstrike kills four in North Waziristan

Sept. 4, 2008

Pakistanis claim US helicopter-borne forces assaulted village in South Waziristan

Sept. 3, 2008

US hits al Qaeda safe house in North Waziristan

Aug. 31, 2008

Five killed in al Qaeda safe house strike in South Waziristan

Aug. 31, 2008

Al Qaeda safe house targeted in South Waziristan strike

Aug. 20, 2008

Cross-border strike targets one of the Taliban’s 157 training camps in Pakistan’s northwest

Aug. 13, 2008

Six killed in strike in South Waziristan

July 28, 2008

Report: Strike targets Baitullah Mehsud’s hideout in Pakistan

June 14, 2008

Senior Algerian al Qaeda operative killed in May 14 strike inside Pakistan

May 24, 2008

Missile strike kills 20 in South Waziristan

March 16, 2008

Unprecedented Coalition strike nails the Haqqani Network in North Waziristan

March 13, 2008

Missile strike on al Qaeda meeting in South Waziristan kills 13

Feb. 28, 2008

Senior al Qaeda leader Abu Laith al Libi killed in North Waziristan

Jan. 31, 2008

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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